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Airman convicted of molesting young elementary school girl

Date Posted: 2005-09-26

A Kadena airman has finally admitted he wrongfully touched and groped an Okinawa City youngster in July.

Staff Sergeant Armando Valdez made the admission in a Naha courtroom, telling the judge he did molest the 10-year-old girl in the Okinawa City Chuo District. For months he had repeatedly admitted taking pictures of the girl with his cell phone camera, but steadfastly denied the other charges.

The fifth grader told police “This American asked me to tuck my tee shirt up”, and said “I had to do it because if I don’t, he will kill me. I felt so.” The girl then said Valdez touched her after she raised the shirt. She was on her way to church with a friend when the 27-year-old airman approached her.

The incident triggered wide scale protests against the military, forcing the Kadena Air Base commander, Brigadier General Jan-Marc Jouas, to declare a 1-6am curfew on all SOFA-status people assigned to, or living on, Kiadena Air Base. The curfew took its toll on local area businesses, while the political fallout was even higher.

Lieutenant General Robert R. Blackman, the III Marine Expeditionary Force commander, apologized to Okinawa saying he regretted the “harm it has caused.” Okinawa’s Governor, Keiichi Inamine and the Okinawa Prefecture Assembly base affairs committee blasted the military, demanding more action to keep its people in line. Inamine had condemned the curfew and restrictions as “not able” to get things under control.

In Naha District Court, Valdez pleaded guilty to Indecent Assault. Court spokesman Shigetatsu Kawai says the crime carries a maximum seven years prison term.

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